I had the opportunity to travel to Colorado this past week. I’ve never been, but I prayed about taking one last solo trip this summer and suddenly, Colorado popped up everywhere. In books. In conversations. Across the internet. My soul was craving the mountains, so I booked a trip and entered the Mile High City.
This trip was unique. I begin a new job this week, so I wanted to take some time to reflect and prepare — a God retreat of sorts. Just like I did in Israel, I prayed, God, would you please prepare every detail? And yet again, He did.
A few days in, I hiked up to the summit of a mountain called Mt. Cutler (I don’t think it’s named after the former Chicago Bears QB, but who knows?) Earlier that morning, I spent some time reading a book called Abba’s Child. I had never heard of it, but it was on the bookshelf of the Airbnb home I was staying in. The book wrecked me. The author explained how we tend to hide our true feelings from others, and from God, as a form of self-protection. We portray a certain persona to our world and lead a somewhat “impostor” lifestyle. The author shares that we can go to God just as we are, secure in our true identity because nothing will change His love for us.
So I’m reflecting on this book and I start asking God questions. God, what do you really think of me? Your love doesn’t change for me even when I’m selfish? Tired? Impatient? How well do I know your heart, really? Why don’t I have a relationship with you like Moses and Elijah and Paul did? I don’t hear anything, so I lace up my shoes and set out for the trailhead.
When I got to the summit of Mt. Cutler, there was a bench. I sat down and soaked in the gorgeous view. A moment later, I heard a voice. “University of Illinois?” someone asked. I carried my water bottle and granola bars in a U of I drawstring bag and this man had noticed. “I grew up in Illinois,” I told him. “But I didn’t attend college there. Did you?” The older man let me know he completed his doctorate work there and he sat down beside me. “I’m Dave,” he said. “Nice to meet you.” He asked what brought me to Colorado and I explained my soon-to-be new job. When he learned I would be working in a church, he mentioned that he leads a youth group at his church in Texas.
“You know,” he said. “The hardest part of working with teens and young adults is when their prayers aren’t answered. They don’t realize sometimes the answers don’t come immediately. Sometimes they come a year later or even longer.” I agreed with Dave and said, “Our society expects immediacy nowadays. I guess that translates to our relationship with God, too. But sometimes He asks us to wait.” He responded, “Yes, I think that’s it. They have trouble waiting.”
All of a sudden, I flashed back to the morning. God, why don’t I have a relationship with you like Moses and Elijah and Paul did? It was like God was answering me through Dave. Wait. Keep seeking Me and wait. I was just as impatient as those teenagers for an answer to all of my prayers. But just because I didn’t sense an answer right away didn’t mean God wasn’t working in the background. It doesn’t mean He’s not listening or He doesn’t care. His time table is just a bit different than mine. “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). And even more, relationships take time to build. Moses and Elijah and Paul spent a lot of time with God. I doubt they knew Him perfectly in the beginning. Their relationship grew over time. My relationship with God will grow over time, too.
If you have been pouring out your heart to God, praying the same unanswered prayer over and over, I want you to take heart. God sees. God knows. God cares. Just because you don’t see an answer doesn’t mean He’s not working in the background. And my prayer for you today is that He sends you someone like Dave to encourage you to keep pressing on. You are so very loved.